Regrets, especially when it comes to the heart, can sometimes come back knocking on your door, or in the case for Sweet Pea Summer’s leading lady, May Anderson, shows up at her new best friend’s party in the form of her high school sweetheart, Tom Riley. The one who’s heart she broke, including her own, eight years ago.
Right away, I knew I was going to love Sweet Pea Summer. Murray's style of writing is descriptive, funny, and sweet all bundled perfectly together; making this story the perfect summer romance read. It is the second book of the Hillsboro Flower Farm series but can lovingly be read as a standalone. (I haven’t read the first series book, The Magnolia Sisters yet, but I will!)
I must admit, this book ruined things for me. It set a standard of charm, romance and lovability that will be incredibly difficult for other summer reads to outdo. The love story between May Anderson and Tom Riley is revealed from the start as the reader learns of May’s inner guilt and turmoil from letting the town’s rumours of what happened when the two broke up eight years earlier after high school graduation. These rumours ruin Tom’s reputation and as a result, affects his family’s wine business and May has a choice whether, to tell the truth, or continue the lie. The story becomes immediately interesting when May and Tom are pressured into working together as the hosts of the North West Food and Wine Festival. It’s through this monumental task that the former couple must make it work, as the entire town’s businesses-including their own, are depending on them putting Hillsboro to the map.
There were SO many quotes throughout the book that made me love Murray’s writing and provides an indication of how enjoyable readers will find this story. Here are some of my favourites:
When describing the stifling, gossip-ridden town of Hillsboro, California, one learns how difficult it was for May and Tom to get a clean start:
In the small town of Hillsboro, California, rumors were like honey. Sweet. Addictive. And, once stained, impossible to get out except with a good, long, painful scrubbing.
How can you not love that description???
And I can’t forget the unique, newly formed friendship between May and Tom’s ex-fiancée, Annie who were total opposites, which is what also made it work:
Truth be told, they were both a strange brand of lonely, the kind you really only found in a small town. Surrounded by people, but close to barely any of them. Known by so many folks, but understood by none of them.
And one more quote, I promise. This can ring true for most people. When May’s sister Rose brought to light May’s fear of taking risks and stepping outside of her comfort zone by dating again, the words were hard to hear but completely necessary for May who was hiding in the shadows for so long.
Each syllable felt like hydrogen peroxide on an open would. It burned at first, but then, it made everything clearer and better.
*sigh* I love that!
Overall, the only downfall for me was that I wish the book was a lot longer. However, I’m so happy to learn that there will another addition to the Hillsboro Flower Farm series coming out in a couple of months!
Thank you again to Bookouture and NetGalley for the advanced reader's copy. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
What is your favourite summer romance novel?
Can you ever really forget your first love? It’s been eight long years since May Anderson’s high school sweetheart Tom Riley drove down Main Street in his truck, leaving Hillsboro—and May—in his rearview mirror. Now he’s back and, try as they might, the pair can’t avoid each other. As Hillsboro prepares to host the prestigious North West Food and Wine Festival, Tom and May are reluctantly called in to plan the big event. Tom needs May’s help to repair his bad-boy reputation and, with the whole town counting on them, May and Tom need to learn to trust each other again. May is determined to protect her heart, but a lot has changed since high school. She can’t help but notice how the skinny boy she used to know is now a man who perfectly fills out his button-down, and Tom can’t seem to tear his gaze away from May’s sweet smile. It’s clear old feelings are surfacing again, but there is a secret keeping them apart and, until they find the courage to face it, their second chance summer will be only that… A heartwarming story about first love, family and the importance of second chances. Fans of Jenny Hale, Debbie Macomber and Robyn Carr will adore Sweet Pea Summer.
Alys Murray is an author who writes for the romantic in all of us. Though she graduated with a degree in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a Master’s in Film Studies from King’s College London, her irrepressible love of romance led her to a career as an author, and she couldn’t be happier to write these stories! Currently splitting time between her home state of Louisiana and London, she enjoys kissing books, Star Wars, and creating original pie recipes for all of her books. Tobey Maguire is her Spider-Man.
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